Plant Ecology Laboratory


General Information and Supporting Files

  • Report
  • File with County Names, Synonymy, Misc Files

The Wisconsin Plant Ecology Laboratory (PEL) studies of the 1940s and 1950s proved a landmark in ecology, formed the basis for John T. Curtis' (1959) now classic Vegetation of Wisconsin and represent the most comprehensive and extensive regional survey of vegetation in North America. Computerization of the PEL data set ensures preservation of this work and provides opportunities for the reanalysis and reuse of the PEL data in studies of long-term vegetation dynamics.

In computerizing a large data set like the Wisconsin PEL files -- there are over 1400 stands -- many decisions are made. These include what to computerize, how to organize, and what not to include. One decision was to enter the PEL data in LOTUS spreadsheet or ASCII formats. User access is initially more difficult than if the data were in a system designed for information retrieval (dBase or GIS systems for example), but the LOTUS and ASCII formats are readily accessible by most researchers and probably will remain so far into the future. Well, maybe not so far (01/31/12). Excel format files are now available as well in the ZIP Archives. A report that is available as a pdf provides information on (1) organization of the Wisconsin PEL files (2) use of MATRIX, a matrix expansion program, (3) species names and synonymy and (4) technical notes on data entry and use of the data. Detailed information on field methods is contained in Curtis (1959). Names for community types generally follow those used by Curtis (1959). Please also check the University of Wisconsin Plant Ecology Laboratory Website for additional information.

Files were uploaded as Winzip Archives and most of the data files are Lotus 123 (Release 2 Files). Ascii files are available from Charles UmbanhowarFunding was provided by grants to Charles Umbanhowar and Ed Beals by the Friends of Wisconsin and students of J.T. Curtis, The Nature Conservancy, University of Wisconsin Arboretum, UW Dept. of Botany Davis Fund, the Lois Almon Fund and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. Grants were administered by the UW Institute for Environmental Studies.

University of Wisconsin Department of Botany

University of Wisconsin Herbarium

Southern Wisconsin Communities

Northern Wisconsin Communities

Lesser and Miscellaneous Communities

(Charles' Homepage)